One look at the Philadelphia Phillies' lineup reveals enough offensive threats to make nearly any club jealous. It also serves as a reminder of the backbone to consecutive pennant winners.
Right now, the Phillies would love to remember what any sort of run production feels like.Philadelphia has been shut out in three of its last four games, and will have to solve an emerging Mike Pelfrey on Thursday night if it plans on avoiding a three-game sweep by the New York Mets.Only a few days ago, the Phillies (26-19) were off to a great start in an attempt to lead the NL in runs for the fourth time in five years despite only having 2007 MVP Jimmy Rollins for 12 games.Since Saturday, however, Philadelphia has looked lost at the plate in losing four straight. The Phillies were one-hit by Boston on Saturday, left 13 men on base in an 8-0 loss at Citi Field on Tuesday and manager Charlie Manuel closed the clubhouse for 15 minutes after Wednesday's 5-0 defeat."A lot of times when you're not scoring runs, you look dead. You look like you have no energy," Manuel said. "I'd like for us to pick it up a little bit, a little more intensity, a little more fire."The Phillies haven't been blanked in three straight games since May 20-24, 1983, though that team won the NL pennant.They'll have a tough challenge Thursday against Pelfrey (6-1, 2.86 ERA), who's 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA at home.Pelfrey's only loss came at Citizens Bank Park on May 1. He allowed six runs and eight hits over four innings of a 10-0 defeat, and has given up four homers in his last two starts against the Phillies.Excluding the May 1 defeat, Pelfrey has a 2.05 ERA. He most recently held the Yankees to one run over six innings in Saturday's 5-3 victory.."When I show up to the park on the days I'm pitching, I expect to win," Pelfrey told the Mets' official website. "I know everybody feels that way about (Johan) Santana, but I want everyone to feel that way about me."His manager certainly does."I feel very good about big Mike," manager Jerry Manuel said. "He has really evolved and matured into a solid, solid pitcher."Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are hitting a combined .161 (5 for 31) over the last four games, but that won't be enough to make Pelfrey careless. Howard is 11 for 25 (.440) against Pelfrey, while four of Utley's eight hits have been homers.The Mets (24-23), meanwhile have outscored last season's two World Series representatives 24-7 in winning four straight. Jose Reyes has been the catalyst offensively, going 9 for 19 and hitting his first homer Wednesday."We're playing good baseball. Jose Reyes is igniting the club," Manuel said.Reyes and the Mets are trying to complete their first three-game home sweep of the Phillies since May 30-June 1, 1997.Cole Hamels (5-2, 3.92) has a 2.36 ERA in May, and he'll be looking to win a fourth straight start. Hamels allowed one run over seven innings Friday in a 5-1 win over Boston."I know if I execute pitch after pitch, that's all I'm able to ask for," Hamels said.Execution has been a major issue for the left-hander in his last six starts against the Mets, going 1-4 with a 5.35 ERA. Hamels also has allowed 21 hits over 10 innings in two starts at Citi Field.